How safe is Cape Town

edited September 2008 in - Southern Africa
I'm moving out to Cape Town with my husband who has been sent there by his job. I hear mixed reports on how safe it is - my husband says its fine but others give horror stories! I have never been there before and am going out with two small children and am a bit worried - am I being paranoid? What precautions should we take? Thanks!


  • edited 2:33PM
    We moved here five years ago from London and had the same concerns as you. There is no doubt that safety is a concern but with some basic precautions it is not a major issue. Most crime is in the townships which you're very unlikely to visit and like many larger cities the better the area the less the crime. But there is lots of poverty so youre idiotic to flout your wealth too much. Drive around in a convertable dripping with diamonds and youre asking for it! You will learn pretty quickly which areas to avoid and take sensible precautions such as not leaving things in your car in view, locking doors while driving, putting the alarm on at night and employing a security company - who come around quickly if the alarm goes off. Safety in Johannesburg is a different story - its much worse there.
  • edited 2:33PM
    Cape Town is in fact a fairly safe city by South African standards. The centre of town is well guarded as are most of the main attractions. Your home must have private security and perimeter deterents like electric fencing and beams. Most crime occurs when people drive into their garages so exercise caution and be alert. Other than the issue of crime, Cape T is a fantastic city for kids and they wil have a blast explioring the mountain, beaches and other natural attractions!
  • edited 2:33PM
    Hi Belles
    I grew up in Cape Town and have lived here all my life. Like TomP said, there are some general safety precautions you should take, but it's the exact same as in any other big city. Don't flaunt your wealth, don't venture into the settlements and don't be driving around without locking your car etc. I have personally not been touched by any crime, nor have anybody in my extended family! Johannesburg is a different story, even I would think twice before moving up there, but Cape Town is the most amazing city in the world, there are great schools for your children and you and your husband will have an excellent time! I have no doubt about it!
    Good luck with the move!
  • edited 2:33PM
    Cape Town is safe enough if you take precautions. There are really two cities here, but the crime stats blend them together. The poor communities of the cape flats see 95% of the crime while the city centre and suburbs are pretty safe in terms of violent crime. You are your children should be fine and by compensation you will gaining access to the one of teh best lifestyles in the world. Super weather, lots of outdoors, healthy activity and clean air!
  • edited 2:33PM
    I am sharing you the same feelings ,I am planning to go for studying MA at english , but I am reading mixed stories about safeness in cape town ,I hope it works well with you and me to get the chance to get goals .

    good luck
  • edited 2:33PM
    This year (2010) we are planning to move to Cape Town as my husband has been offered a job in Strand area. We have 2 children (10 & 8) and live in a rural area of England where crime is very low and I am concerned about the safety. Could anyone advise where are the better suburbs to live and the good schools in the area?.

  • edited 2:33PM
    Jo - take a look at our sister site's guide to the best areas in cape town for expats to live in. The rest of the guide gives good info on setting up home, crime and safety etc. Take a look!
  • edited 2:33PM
    HI Jo
    If your husband is going to work in the Strand area do yourself a favour and look in Gordons Bay.
    Gordons Bay has fantastic beaches good school(Gordons Bay Primary) and houses are affordable.It is also the safest of the 3 Heledeberg Towns.
    There is an excellent security company in town so nice and close by.
    Only downside is the wind in summer time..
    good luck!
  • edited 2:33PM
    I was born and bred in Cape Town. Some areas are - like anywhere in the world - crime risk. Others are safe enough to walk around at night.

    I suggest you research where your husband will be working, then look at residential neighbourhoods close by. If you're talking Northern Suburbs, you have (almost) no worries. Safe, wide open roads, bigger properties and friendlier people.

    Good luck and welcome to the most beautiful city in the world - no bias!!! Okay, maybe a little (LOL)
  • edited 2:33PM
    Hi there,
    I have been living in CPT all my life and like most people are doing left CPT for a better future for me and my family. Guys, get real CPT is fairly dangerous, I worked on the Ambulances and at a security co. on the Seaboard and cape flats areas and saw horrific things, yes even in Camps Bay, crime that is going on under your noses and which you are not even aware of........
    Bad thing is that its just going to get worse because of all the immigrants from other African countries.
  • edited 2:33PM
    How safe is it to rent a car and drive to the sites yourself verses taking a tour?

    Some sites mention not acting touristy and blend in like a local. But we're Asian, so we obviously can't be a local. Would we be at higher crime risk because we are obvious tourists?
  • edited 2:33PM
    I was born and bred in Cape Town and it is a great city but it does have major security issues, which most European people will not be aware of. In Europe (UK included) you may find bars on the windows, these are to prevent people from falling out not to prevent people from breaking in - hence the term burglar bars. In SA these bars are connected through the wall and secured on the inside. Armed response subscriptions are fundamental as are the panic buttons located around the house.
    The good old trusted security doors to secure both the back and front entrances to the property are par for the course and often have more than one lock. In Oranjezicht, Camps bay and other parts of the city bowl electric fences top off the wall, which can ranges from 4 to 6 metres. Secured doors and intekom services, dogs, alarms are a few of the additional safety and security features it would be prudent to utilize.
    All of the above and you have not ventured out of your home yet! Top city but different to the European community.
  • edited 2:33PM
    well i agree Cape Town has some security concerns but i must say that Cape Town is the safest city as compared to other African cities. Being the legislative capital of South Africa, Cape Town provides reliable security to its inhabitants as well as tourists. Still, don’t put large amount of money while traveling around Always zip your expensive things in your pockets. Don’t pretend to be the rich person as the chance of being robbed gets increased. Always keep emergency numbers in your mobile phones. 112 and 10111 are more reactive numbers in case of emergency.
  • edited 2:33PM
    I am about to spend 5 weeks in Green Point. Some sites advise not to go alone on the streets. It scared me a bit, what could you say on this issue? Thanks
  • edited 2:33PM
    Go out on the streets, and have a great time. Keep your valuables protected, your wits about you, and don't let the ridiculous reports in the press interfere with having a wonderful experience of our city!
  • edited 2:33PM

    I lived on and off for 3 years in CT and absolutely fell in love with the place.
    Now live in Los Angeles and I have to say: not a day goes by without missing South Africa.
    Does the country have its problems, yes of course... but so does every country and in every city there is crime.
    However, what South Africa also has is a wonderful energy, people are very friendly and welcoming to those coming from overseas to base themselves there. I love the country and its people, despite a few encounters I could have lived without I still have the fondest memories of this country.

    Enjoy it, it's an experience and Africa is a continent that will catch you.
    On a more practical side: I assume you also carry emergency numbers in your cellphone like you do anywhere else in the world, don't display expensive jewelry ..

    Be streetwise, but please don't get intimidated by what the press has been writing about the country.

    It's a great place to be.
  • edited 2:33PM
    September 13, 2010, 10:13 pm
    Getting robbed is an awful feeling and makes you think that you could have done more to prevent it. Only after, you start to consider that security is more than a simple issue. It is a big one.
    Talking security takes more than locking doors and windows when you leave home. There are lots of other things to consider like back and front yard, inside and outside lightning, alarms and safes.
    Last summer I lost my laptop and was told by law enforcement officers that I would have to bid on my own laptop at auction unless I could prove the item belonged to me. Luckily my brother in law got me a Ghostprint kit for my birthday and my laptop was one of the first items I marked.
    I hope it will be useful
    The officers returned my laptop after providing them with the details of my invisible Ghostprint mark, saving me potentially having to buy my own laptop again!
  • edited 2:33PM
    I grew up in Cape Town but have also lived in Duban & Johannesburg and honestly out of the 3 big towns or cities in South Africa, Cape Town will be my first choice and the urban areas are safer than Joburg or Duban from my experiece and after being 2 years in Durban and 7 years in Joburg we are yearning to return home to Cape Town we regret moving to Johannesburg. I am sure most people will enjoy a great life in Cape Town with some basic precautions. Johannesburg on the other hand you really have to watch your back.
  • edited 2:33PM
    Ow..i miss Cape Town soo much. Living back in the UK for the past 25 wish could make it back. Safety bothers me. Also have young child. Hear so many awful stories from South Africans who say so dangerous now. Can only wish
  • edited February 2011
    After 16months in the US and then 2 years in the UK I have returned to glorious South Africa and currently living in Johannesburg.
    I am currently making my plans to relocate to Cape Town and as a travel risk advisor for one of the largest brokerages globally you would be surprised to learn that Cape Town actually ranks as one of the safest destinations in the world and has been nominated numerous times as city of the year.

    Yes yes you just being biased I hear you say but my decision to return to SA and more specifically Cape Town stems from my experiences in Europe and UK where there were times that I fell more intimidated and threatened than I ever have walking around the streets of Cape Town and as a ex riot squad policeman I still don't scare easily...

    To date I have never experienced a negative day in Cape Town and I am looking forward to settling in soon one day.
  • edited 2:33PM
    Hi all, is Green point a safe area or what area would most people recommend for a tourist, cheer in advance
  • edited 2:33PM
    I'm from Gordons Bay about 50km from Cape Town in the Leafy suburbs of the Helderberg (Somerset West, Strand included) and I came to Australia as a student expecting a really nice lifestyle. I got it but I compared it to Cape Town and I never found much difference in terms of beauty and lifestyle. Living here has exposed me to the thousands of South Africans who emigrated here because of crime and most of them come from Johannesburg. None thought of moving to Cape Town because they thought it would be the same. Cape Town is just as amaizing as Sydney and I take precausions over hear to. I hear of murders, rapes, robbery and violence in Sydney aswell, on a daily basis.

    Moral of the story: It's all about area and watching your back no matter where you live.
    I recommend The Helderberg region, Stellenbosch, Durbanville and any of the areas that are of a better standard.

    It's a beautiful city and is not named Africas no.1 destianation for no reason.

    God bless
  • edited 2:33PM
    Cape town is relatively safe, however other South African cities are not very safe. I used to live there some years ago and I didn't have any problem but someone should be really careful there.
  • edited 2:33PM
    I'm currently living in the UK but would like to return to SA but my dilemma is choosing which province.I'm originally from Natal but would like to try Cape Town. I don't know much Cape Town in terms of crime and cost of living etc ,could anyone share what they think would be the best move.
  • edited 2:33PM
    My daughter wants to go to Cape Town for a 6 month internship in Sept and I am concerned about her safety - I have heard stories that people from South Africa will not bring their wife or daughter with them when visiting due to the violence (rapes). Should I influence her to look elsewhere for her internship

    A very concerned mother
  • edited 2:33PM
    @worried - I can't really add more reassurance than the posts above ... suffice to say I don't know where you get your information from but it seems to be wildly sensationalistic. Cape Town city is very safe, there are lots of international youngsters here, having a great time.
  • edited 2:33PM
    I am volunteering to go to CT in 2013 for a missionary trip. We will be doing 100% of our volunteer work in the townships. I will be going alone and am a white female leaving behind a just over 1 year old at home to do this. I am looking for reassurance that this is going to be ok. Anyone with websites that can help me out, or personal experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thank-you!

    Amy from Canada
  • edited 2:33PM
    Don't go Amy. It's just not safe. Do your research. Violent Crime is high and as a white female in the townships you will be very vulnerable. I would not let my daughter do this and I know Cape Town very well having lived there for 35 years before moving to Canada in order to have a normal life style rather than being scared all the time. South Africa is not safe and the townships are very unsafe.
  • edited 2:33PM
    @AmyJ - I assume you will be escorted and accompanied by a host church and their people. In which case you will be quite safe, and made to feel incredible welcome. I get annoyed by uninformed people who constantly draw from their own paranoid fantasies to scare other people. I seriously doubt the previous commenter has ever been inside a township.

    I will say that if you wander around alone, in a deserted area, at night, you might will attract some danger. But this is most likely the case wherever you go in the world.

    Coming here is a risk, a calculated one, but still a risk. However most rewarding experiences entail stepping - prudently and with preparation - outside ones' comfort zone.
  • edited 2:33PM
    Amy, why would you leave your child?!?!?!? Is going really so important?
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